Photo: Jon Overmyer/NewsArt
Photo: Jon Overmyer/NewsArt

Thinking about our work

Smoke from backyard barbecues tells us that another Labor Day weekend is here, a harbinger of oncoming autumn in a year that’s seemed to move at warp speed.

Labor Day is a fitting holiday tribute to a nation, state and metro that have always been about the business of working and building. The constant jog necessary to keep up with relentless societal and economic changes means that most of us spend our days working hard and moving fast. That’s the reality of modern life for American workers. It’s especially true for the 4.1 million Georgians holding jobs July, as well as the 2.46 million metro Atlantans who are part of that group.

Put another way: millions of us can use this long weekend off to rest and recharge.

Labor Day also provides an opportunity to examine the important nexus where economic theory meets the reality of job creation and nurturing of existing jobs.

It’s encouraging that reliable signs point toward a continuation of the economic recovery we’ve seen for some five-plus years now. And, yes, many of us are to be forgiven for snorting and asking, “What recovery?” For the recent years haven’t felt much like the exhilarating rush toward greater prosperity that we enjoyed during previous go-go periods of economic growth.

It just doesn’t feel like a boom time — not with a state unemployment rate that remains pinned above the national average. In July, metro Atlanta’s unemployment rate stood at 8 percent, and Georgia’s at 7.8 percent. The U.S. rate is currently 6.2 percent.

Yet, Atlanta and Georgia continue to make headway on the jobs front. State and Atlanta jobless rates remain below those of July 2013. Companies continue to move here, or expand existing operations. Jobs often follow.

Job creators and government here also continue collaborating on ways to create a more-skilled workforce that’s better able to continually learn and help employers profitably adapt to changing conditions. Getting there takes investment on the part of companies, schools and workers alike. Simultaneously preparing for the future and present is a job for all of us.

To that end, a group of key players in economic development offer their thoughts today on improving Georgia’s job market. Their words are worth considering this Labor Day weekend.

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Andre Jackson, for the Editorial Board.